What is a Boxelder Bug?
Boxelder bugs get their common name from the fact that they are often found on and around boxelder trees. This species is native to the western states but can be found from eastern Canada throughout the eastern United States, and west to eastern Nevada, wherever boxelder trees are found. Boxelder bugs are primarily a nuisance pest as they enter structures, including homes, sheds and garages to overwinter.
- Color: Black with reddish or orange markings on dorsum
- Legs: 6
- Shape: Elongate-oval, somewhat flattened with head narrower than pronotum
- Size: 1/2” (11-14 mm)
- Antennae: Yes
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What Do Boxelder Bugs Look Like?
These bugs are black with reddish or orange markings on their back. The adult bugs have a body shape that is a somewhat flattened and elongated oval and is about half an inch long. They have six legs and two antennae that are typically half of their body length. Nymphs look like adults but lack wings and are bright red in color.
Signs of an Infestation
These bugs generally become a problem when they invade homes, sheds and garages in the fall and when they emerge in the spring. Like many overwintering pests, homeowners may see evidence of these bugs as the winter ends and they leave their overwintering site to go back outdoors.
Boxelder Bugs Prevention
How To Get Rid Of Boxelder Bugs
In order to prevent boxelder bugs from invading homes, repair holes in window and door screens, seal cracks and crevices with a good quality silicone or silicone-latex caulk and install door sweeps to all exterior entrances.
When getting rid of boxelder bugs that have already entered a home or building, no attempt should be made to kill them in wall voids because dead insect bodies can attract dermestid beetles (larder beetles, carpet beetles, etc.). Experts recommend waiting until summer when all live overwintering adults are out of the wall voids. To provide temporary relief during this time, consider using a vacuum cleaner to get rid of the boxelder bugs. Then, seal up any entryways into the living space – window pulleys, window and door frames, baseboards, etc. – to prevent a future infestation.
If a boxelder bug infestation is suspected, please contact PMi for advice or to schedule an inspection at 336-272-4400.
Inside, boxelder bugs are primarily a nuisance pest, however their fecal material can cause a red stain on curtains, drapes, clothing, etc. When crushed or handled roughly, boxelder bugs can also produce a strong, disagreeable odor.
In autumn, boxelder bugs become gregarious and congregate on the south side of rocks, trees and buildings where the sun hits. After large masses gather, they migrate to nearby buildings or homes to overwinter. These pests tend to hide in small cracks and crevices in walls to insulate themselves from the cold winter temperatures. In late March to early April, adults leave their overwintering sites to return to their host trees for the warmer months.